Crisis Communications the focus of daylong workshop

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November 3, 2022 by HCDE Communications

Communications often take a back seat when we think about managing crisis situations in schools.

At a daylong Crisis Communications & Safety Summit held this week, Julie Thannum from the Center for Effective School Operations (CESO)—a longtime school communications professional—led more than 60 school communications professionals and ISD police personnel from the greater Houston region in a training designed to reinforce best practices for communicating during a school crisis. The workshop marks the first time a training of this kind has been offered by HCDE.

Julia Thannum leads the Crisis Communications & Safety Summit, November 2, 2022.

“This is the first time in my 30-year law enforcement career that I’ve taken a training like this,” said Aldine ISD Police Sergeant Jeffery McGowen. “I believe that people, especially school administrators, are now really understanding that communication is the key.”

During the workshop, organized by the Center for Safe and Secure Schools and HCDE Chief Communications Officer Danielle Clark, participants heard from a panel of public information officers (PIOs) from various local law enforcement agencies on trending topics and participated in a mock crisis incident simulating a school bus accident.

Participants were divided into teams, each with an assigned role, and worked together to manage the evolving situation as they received new information every seven minutes. The exercise shed light on each team’s strengths and areas for improvement.

Participants also heard from education lawyers with experience in school crises who provided insight into communications from the legal and litigation perspective.

“This training is very timely, considering how common active school threats are becoming, even in the last month,” said Center for Safe and Secure Schools Director Julia Andrews. “Many school communicators and law enforcement officers have never been through a large-scale crisis, and we need to know that we can rely on each other for support.”

To see upcoming workshops offered by the CSSS, visit

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